BHURBAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said that nobody in Pakistan subscribed to any notion of the so-called strategic depth in Afghanistan.
“We must not let anyone resurrect this dead horse to advance their propagandistic aims or seek to sow the seeds of misunderstanding between us and our Afghan brethren,” Qureshi said while addressing inaugural session of a conference on Afghan peace titled ‘Lahore Process’ in Bhurban.
“For far too long, the vicious circle of mistrust, often fed into by our common enemies, has affected our relationship. The blame game has not helped either of us. It is indispensible to move away from this negative paradigm.”
The minister said Afghanistan and Pakistan must not allow their respective territories to be used by anyone to the detriment of their interests.
“We must also remain vigilant of the other forces that wish to create misunderstandings and divisions between us. We must not allow them to harm our brotherly relations. We both have the same objective of long-term peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.”
Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan wanted to see a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan. He added that advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s own national interest.
“There are no two other countries in the region or the world that have so much in common than Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Pakistan’s role in helping the Afghan nation reclaims its sovereignty after the foreign occupation in 1979 and hosting of millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades remains a testimony to the closeness as well as the sense of duty our people feel towards our Afghan brothers and sisters.”
The minister said Pakistan’s perspective on Afghanistan is clear. “We support an Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbours. We respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan,” he remarked.
“We remain firmly committed to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. We are determined to build our bilateral relationship on the principles of non-interference, mutual respect and common interest.”
Qureshi said the decades-long conflict had brought huge suffering to both the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He added that after the Afghan nation, no one had suffered more than the people of Pakistan because of this persistent instability and conflict.
“Pakistan’s security continues to be deeply influenced by the security situation in Afghanistan,” he noted. “Pakistan wishes to see a friendly Afghanistan, governed by elected leadership, representative of the aspirations of all Afghans.”
The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan had been personally committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan for a long time.
“In addition to playing our role in the peace process, Pakistan also remains committed to the Afghan reconstruction and development efforts, post-settlement,” he added.
“Pakistan will continue to deepen its engagement with all sections of the Afghan society and their representatives in further cementing these achievements, as per expectations of the people of Afghanistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2019.